Adding washing powder to top loader washing machine
Research report
6 May 2019

Front or top loader? Seven myths debunked

If you think a front loader won't work for you, you might be surprised.

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Judy B.
25 Apr 2021
Farm water supply

Do you have suggestions for those of us who are on farm water supply? Our toilets and washing machine run on creek water. When it floods we change it over to roofwater, but only do this when necessary. Which machines are best for water that sometimes has impurities?

Jeanette J.
06 Jun 2020
Would like my top loader back

Needed to replace my F&P top loader after 16yrs and was recommended a front loader in store. Purchased a Electrolux Inverter 8.5kg. I have regretted this purchase every wash since. It has no heavy duty cycle and makes a poor job of farm soiled clothes. Worse problem is how it makes natural fibre clothing (the bulk of my wash) hard and scratchy. The only way I can have usable clothes is to use a drier to soften them up. Very uneconomical. Such a disappointing purchase after so much promotion of them. When I can afford will replace with a top loader again.

Claire T.
08 Jul 2020
Would Like my top Loader Back

Have you tried reducing the final spin speed. Front loaders remove a lot more water making the fabric fibres harder/ scratchy. I found that if I reduce the spin speed therefore removing less water my towels were softer - naturally they take longer to dry but no longer than with my old top loader.

Margaret T.
12 Dec 2020
Re: hard and scratchy towels; clothing

I agree! Have been a top loader fan for ever and am pleased with the dirt removal and rinse performance on farm clothes. (I always manually set the water limit rather than use 'auto'). However several of my family have front loaders and I HATE folding or using their sandpapery towels....grandchildren always comment on how soft our towels are!

Richard N.
04 May 2020
We love our Miele front loader

We think our Miele front loader is the bomb. Our first one is still going strong after almost 12 years (we gave it to a relative) and the second one is now about five years old.

We have it on a concrete floor but I'm aware they can bounce around on a wooden floor. Our relative installed a concrete block base to elevate the machine off the floor about 12" and that works fine. There are also special brackets you can buy to keep the machine secure.

I always use the Short button which drastically reduces the cycle length (less than one hour) and the clothes are washed perfectly. There's also a 20 min express wash. With both machines, you have several minutes when you can still open the door after the wash cycle begins so add a forgotten item.

In winter we wear lots of merino clothing and using a 30 or 40 degree wool cycle and wool detergent for a front loader - it's a gem.

Periodically I do a towel wash on 60 degrees which is also the 'hygiene cycle' that also helps keep the machine clean. Most everyday washing is done on a short cottons or minimum iron (Synthetics) cycle of 30-40 degrees. I never use a cold wash.

It's true the towels will feel harder and especially so since we do not have a dryer but they only feel hard the first time you use them when clean.

Overall the front loader gives a superior wash and is much more gentle on clothes. I would never return to a top loader.

Previous member
02 May 2020
front loader shredding my cottons

i have a Panasonic 10kg front loader...my second after the first one died under warranty. They absolutely clean the clothes better than my old F&P top loader which lasted about 12 years due to several repairs. I think if I have to buy another one though, I will go back to a top loader as my towels, tshirts and other cotton items are being absolutely brutalised by the last two machines. Never had a problem with top loaders all my long life and I've used the same detergent for over 10 years. Only started happening with a front loader.

Jonathan P.
27 Jan 2020
Running costs???

What calculator did you use for your electricity calculations!

A typical front load washer uses around 260 kw/hrs per year when used once a day for a year. At your rate of $0.26 per kw/hr this calculates out to around $68. This is a long way from the $10 quoted in the article.

Similarly, a top loader is rated at somewhere around 400 kw/hrs which comes out at around $104 for the year.

I think something here needs correcting.

Consumer staff
28 Jan 2020
Re: Running costs???

Hi Jonathan,

Feedback from our members is that most people run a cold cycle. We therefore consider that a “normal” wash. To reflect a real-world experience, we test washing machines using a “normal” cold wash. If there isn’t one, we use the closest approximation. As a result, you'll sometimes see differences between what the energy label says and what we’ve measured.

With the top loader example, the manufacturer used a “water-saving, hot & cold, mid-power wash, water level 10” cycle. Using a cold wash (as we did) would have consumed less energy. With the front loader, the real-world “normal” cycle we used wasn’t as long as stated in the manual (we test with 3.5kg of clothes, and when the load’s small, the programme usually gets shorter automatically), nor was it as hot.

This Energywise calculator illustrates the differences nicely. With it set on 4-star energy, 7.5kg capacity, 7 washes a week and 100% cold, the annual energy use is 51kWh ($13.37). Set it to 100% warm washes and it jumps to 246kWh or $64.61.

https://www.energywise.govt.nz/tools/running-costs-calculator/#!/washing-machine

Kind regards,
Julia - Consumer NZ staff

Edward P.
03 Jun 2019
front loaders cause more vibrations if not on a concrete floor

Be very cautious before installing a front loader in a wooden floored (piled) house. After buying our house we discovered the previous owner's rennovations (moving the washing machine location) meant the washing machine was over a poorly-supported part of the floor and made the whole house shake (we tried 2 brands of front loader so it isn't brand specific). Although we didn't try a top-loader, physics suggests it wouldn't have this problem as the forces are parallel to the floor not perpendicular. The solution was to cut a hole in the floor and build a concrete plinth for the machine that sits on the dirt below and finishes level with the floor so it technically isn't touching the house.

R & R B.
12 May 2019
Add an item easy.

When i was searching for a front loader that could have an item added to it, my salesperson steered me away from the more expensive advertised "Add an item" machine to the pause button on most front loaders. The machine pauses, 3 seconds for the door to unlock, throw in the sock and we are away washing again. Easy peasey! (and no, the water does not come pouring out onto the floor)

Dawn N.
11 May 2019
Front loader convert

We lived and worked in UK for some years and because of housing style had to use a front loader in the kitchen. The original Hotpoint was a total disaster mechanically but we replaced it with a Bosch which we found was superb, We brought it back to NZ with us and only replaced it because it finally wore out aged 17 years! We bought another Bosch front loader and because of advancing years my husband built a dais for it to stand on in the laundry. Utterly convinced I dont want a top loader ever again. It washes brilliantly, has a vast array of settings so I can do all my delicates in 15 minutes, and I run a machine clean cycle every month-ish. To the person who asked about her machine walking and vibrating, in my experience that usually means the machine is not balanced (Check the feet/floor)

Patricia J.
11 May 2019
front loader walkabout

I bought a front loader after years of top loaders and it is fine BUT no one has been able to stop it from walking and the vibration is significant - any suggestions?

Sierra R.
24 Jul 2019
Walking front loader

I haven't tried this yet, but my dad suggested putting a concrete paving stone under the machine (one as big as the floor area of the machine). The idea is that tge paving stone will create a furner surface and stop the vibrations.

Paul L.
03 Apr 2021
Front loader over wooden floor, vibrating on spin cycle.

Try placing a weight of 20kg on top. I use a plastic crate containing 10 x 2 litre milk bottles filled with water. This solved the problem.

Linda M.
11 May 2019
Front loaders vs backs

One of my issues with a front loader is having to bend way over to retrieve articles from its depths - and another is that if you want to stop the machine and retrieve an item, you can't. For fibre craft workers, top loaders rule!

J.K
11 May 2019
Front loaders vs backs

I totally agree with Linda M but I have room to have my washer and dryer side-by-side so I have them mounted 600mm from the floor.